Gold-farming employs 500,000 people worldwide

Richard Heeks, the head of the development informatics group at the UK's University of Manchester, estimates that nearly half a million people earn money as "gold farmers" -- players who seek out gold or experience points in online multiplayer games, then sell their loot to other players with less time on their hands. To give you a sense of the scale of this, the entire much-discussed Indian computer programming outsourcing industry employes 400,000 people -- but Heeks says his estimate is on the low end, and the true number could be much more. Most gold farmers live in developing nations, and the trade is becoming infiltrated by criminal gangs. read more...

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